Want to Annoy ISIS? Learn About This Awesome Ancient Queen.

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tags: Syria, Palmyra, ISIS, ISIL, Ancient Artifacts



Zach Carter is The Huffington Post's Senior Political Economy Reporter, working out of Washington D.C.  Akbar Shahid Ahmed is a foreign affairs reporter at the Washington, D.C., bureau of The Huffington Post. 

Sledgehammering priceless statues. Bombing temples that date back to the era of Jesus and Augustus. In just a few short months, the Islamic State group has waged a profound assault on humanity's knowledge of itself by wreaking havoc in the unique, ancient city of Palmyra in central Syria. 

The Islamic State, or ISIS, has a twofold interest in this destruction. Drawing on questionable accounts of early Islamic expansion, the militant organization believes it has a divinely ordained duty to smash symbols of idolatry that challenge the oneness of God.

But there's a more pragmatic motive, too. The Islamic State depends on global news coverage for its steady flow of international recruits. With many networks and publications now almost inured to the seemingly endless human suffering in Iraq and Syria, blasting historical treasures like the Phoenician temple for the god of storms gives the group a new way to shock Westerners. 

Lost monuments cannot be recovered, even if a U.S.-led coalition eventually brings the Islamic State down. But the attention the extremists are bringing to the history they seek to eliminate may ultimately defeat their cause. There are as many stunning stories about Palmyra as there are years since its founding, and those tales won't be forgotten -- they may, in fact, simply be celebrated even more amid the destruction.

One of the most powerful Palmyran stories is that of Zenobia -- a warrior queen from the third century who rebelled against Rome and nearly brought the ancient empire to its knees. Today, the memory of this powerful woman stands as a direct challenge to the violently enforced misogyny of the Islamic State. ...




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